3 Email Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

Mistakes happen to all of us, no matter how infallible we believe ourselves to be. Some are big mistakes, some small, some expensive, some of no consequence -- but they are mistakes nonetheless, and we should be learning from each and every one of them.

Learning from your mistakes is much easier when you know you are making them. It’s the mistakes you don’t realize you’re making that are the most dangerous, because you continue to make them again and again.

The world of email is no different. There are the mistakes marketers know about, which are typically remedied by “oops” messages when warranted. But today we are going to review the mistakes that are being made that you may not know about (or simply choose to ignore):

Pre-header text. Please, I beg you, stop using the “click here to view message in a web browser” language. This is a hangover best practice from when our trusted BlackBerries wouldn’t render the HTML correctly (or at all). It provided a fall-back experience so that recipients could still see the message as intended.



That being said, the need to include pre-header text (PHT) is as important as ever.  Begin using the pre-header as a vehicle to drive engagement. Including a single line of copy with an actionable call-to-action has proven successful for many brands.

Think of your PHT as an extension of your subject line, sitting somewhere between the subject line and the headline of the message. If you do this correctly, your subscriber will now have enough information to make a decision on engaging now, scrolling for more information or relegating your message to the trash (or worse, the SPAM folder).

Avoiding certain words in subject lines. A long-standing concern is that certain words in a subject line, like “free” or “don’t wait,” can land you in the SPAM folder. While that was true back in the day, the impact that words and phrases can have on inbox placement is secondary to more critical measures and KPIs like engagement, list quality and list health (to name a few).  

While I am not encouraging you to go crazy spammer language on us with your subject lines, using verbiage that is going to motivate subscriber engagement and align with the content of your message should not be avoided simply because you are afraid it is going to get your message blocked.

“Blasting.” The worst word in the email-marketing vernacular is “blast.” If you use it regularly -- stop. Even more important, if you do it regularly….STOP.

Blasting implies that your email program is nothing more than a shotgun approach to your customers. Little importance is placed on individuality or relationship when you are blasting your customers.  

Yes, there are times when it makes sense to deploy a message broadly and widely to your subscribers, but it is also important to recognize the individuals on your email file and talk to them one-on-one, as well.

Metrics show, time and time again, that targeted and segmented communications typically outperform blasts – though that isn’t always the case. There are certainly situations where the shotgun approach is the right one, but not every single time.

Be smart about talking to your customers – they are more than just an email address, and your email program needs to recognize that.

So, whether you were previously unaware that you were making these mistakes or not, it is important to the health of your email program that you stop making them for good today.

1 comment about "3 Email Marketing Mistakes To Avoid ".
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  1. Josh Kirschner from, October 12, 2016 at 12:40 p.m.

    Hi Kara, Always good advice on leveraging the pre-header text. I'm still amazed by how many emails I still get with the View in Browser language or other unhelpful data. FWIW, Email Insider falls into this trap, too: the pre-header repeats the title and adds author name and the date.

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